As of June 26, 2020, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam confirmed that Canada has flattened the curve for COVID-19. This is truly great news for all those living in Canada as everyone has been looking forward to having their lives and routines back to the way things were (or at least in the closest way possible).
From an immigration perspective, Canada took a hit. Like most countries during the pandemic, Canada’s unemployment rate increased – from 5.6% (February, 2020) to 13.7% (May, 2020). Businesses from different sectors simply could not sustain their operations due to decreased consumer spending. Some retailers are either permanently or temporarily closing operations in Canada while others have filed for bankruptcy or creditor protection.
A high unemployment rate is not ideal for Canadian immigration especially for people who apply for temporary work permits. To put it simply, Canada needs to prioritize the needs and interests of the permanent residents and citizens that are already in Canada. From March to June 2020, we noticed that processing time was longer than usual for some applications and some decisions were withheld by the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) especially for the foreign workers in Canada who applied for temporary work permits. The IRCC also paused their draws for Federal Skilled Worker via the Express Entry. Prior to July, 2020 the last draw was still sometime in February, 2020.
But this does NOT mean immigration has stopped altogether during COVID-19. It just means we would need to utilize other immigration streams available and this would depend on one’s profile and whether they are already in Canada or still outside of Canada.
If you are still outside of Canada, the FASTEST and most viable immigration stream is through the Student Visa route, which is ideal for those who are professionals, with a bachelor’s degree (or at least wo diplomas), and can show strong ties to their country of origin. After completing studies in either a one- or two-year certificate, diploma or degree, you have opportunity to apply for a post-graduate work permit or permanent residency depending on your circumstance. With the student visa stream, your whole family can accompany you, both you and your spouse can work, children get free education, and the whole family has access to the Canadian health care system. To find out more about the benefits of the Student Visa stream, check out this link: https://www.mvcimmigration.com/pages/study-permit-canada.
Studying in Canada helps stimulate the economy and it shows to the Canadian government that you have a higher likelihood of assimilating successfully into Canadian society having had Canadian education and work experience.
To show support for the Student Visa stream during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC has declared the following:
- International students who have approved study permits on or before March 18, 2020 are still permitted to travel to Canada;
- If in-class courses are being moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, students are still eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP); and,
- If you have a study permit or was approved for a study permit for a program starting in the spring, summer or fall of 2020, but you can’t travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions, you’re also still eligible for the PGWPP
- If you’re in this situation, you may begin your classes while outside Canada, and complete up to 50% of your program while outside Canada, if you can’t travel to Canada sooner,
- If you start your studies in fall 2020, you won’t have time deducted from the length of your post-graduation work permit for studies you complete while outside Canada between fall 2020 and December 31, 2020.
There are other immigration streams available, but this depends on your specific profile. As a regulated Canadian immigration consultant, we are knowledgeable on the different immigration programs across all Provinces. Get assessed for free: https://www.mvcimmigration.com/pages/how-to-get-started/assessment-form.
Other noteworthy changes to travel and immigration to Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic (note that there are other changes but will not be discussed in this blog):
- The US border was closed to leisure travel and restrictions were put in place except for:
- temporary foreign workers for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose
- some approved permanent residents
- immediate family members with written authorization from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to reunite with a temporary resident of Canada;
- Requirement of a plan to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Canada even if you have no symptoms. Only people who provide essential services, for example, truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods, are exempt from the quarantine requirements;
- Citizenship ceremonies, citizenship tests and retests until further notice;
- Service Canada locations and U.S. Application Support Centres have stopped collecting biometrics until further notice; and,
- All applications are to be done online until further notice; paper applications for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit will not be processed.
For those who have other questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their application for Canadian immigration, please reach out to us at [email protected].